Cedar-Riverside residents dispute renaming of neighborhood park

Residents feel they weren’t consulted over the park board’s renaming of Riverside Park.

The sun sets on Riverside Park, Monday Feb. 26. Neighbors have opposed the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board's decision to rename the park after one of the longest-serving board members, Annie Young, who passed away earlier this year.

Carter Blochwitz

The sun sets on Riverside Park, Monday Feb. 26. Neighbors have opposed the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board’s decision to rename the park after one of the longest-serving board members, Annie Young, who passed away earlier this year.

Carter Blochwitz

Cedar-Riverside residents are organizing to oppose the recent renaming of a historic neighborhood park.

The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board passed a resolution Feb. 7 to rename Riverside Park after the late Annie Young, who was one of the longest-serving commissioners on the park board. Officials voted to rename the park to “Annie Young Riverside Park,” and the lower portion of it to “Annie Young Meadow.”

The park board has opened a comment period on the renaming until late March. Residents say they weren’t adequately consulted about the renaming, and few were able to voice their concerns.

“It feels gratuitous for those of us that have lived here for several years,” said Phil Heywood, a Cedar-Riverside resident who lives near the park. “The name defines the neighborhood — Riverside Park.”

During a community meeting Feb. 19, a group of residents aired their grievances with the name change and discussed how to oppose the action.

“We got a letter two days before the meeting,” said Marie Olofsdotter, another resident of the neighborhood. “We emailed like crazy, people spoke up in letters and that’s why we have the 45 days. If we had not gone there, [the park] would already be renamed.”

Aiya Butler, a Cedar-Riverside resident who attended the park board meeting on Feb. 7, said she felt her input was ignored by the board.

“I’m sure [Annie Young] was a great woman, and she did a lot of great things — but she didn’t do anything for our park,” Butler said.

Residents hope to find a compromise with the park board, and say they are willing to see the lower portion of the park renamed to commemorate Young. But they want the main park’s name to stay.

Ward 2 Minneapolis City Council member Cam Gordon said the park renaming was first proposed in 2005, but was declined.

“[The Park and Recreation Board] was in the middle of a process to define a process for naming parks after people, and they still are,” Gordon said.

He said he believes the 45-day comment period and the prospect of only renaming the lower area of Riverside Park is the best compromise for the dispute.